The cartel has been in Texas for longer than you might be comfortable knowing.

The Drug Enforcement Agency recently released their National Drug Threat Assessment for the year 2024. In the assessment, the subject of fentanyl and the rising number of American deaths due to the illicit substance is at the forefront.

The blame for the prevalence of fentanyl in the United States is placed squarely on the shoulders of two major Mexican cartels named by the DEA, the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel.

The 2024 NDTA highlights the dangerous shift from plant-based drugs to synthetic drugs. This shift has resulted in the most dangerous and deadly drug crisis the United States has ever faced. These synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, are responsible for nearly all of the fatal drug poisonings in our nation.


The Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels are at the heart of this crisis.

As Texas is one of the states that share a border with Mexico, it's a given that members of the cartels have made plenty of trips for many years.

So the question remains: which cartels are here in Texas and where?

Cartels in Texas Cities

The map shown below is from the DEA's unclassified threat assessment of cartel activity. You can see the regional trend of cartel territory color coded as a heat map. Then, cartel activity that has been observed by field agents with a particular office is indicated by color coded discs.


In order to grasp the true breadth and scope of cartel influence, consider the fact that cartels frequently have close alliances and partnerships with urban street gangs such as Barrio Azteca and Tango Blast. Meaning, gang activity observed by law enforcement can easily be a task assigned to a gang by any cartel cell that has set up camp in the area.

With all that said, check out the main cartels that are known to have established a presence in Texas, along with what Texas cities they can be found in.

Mexican Cartels in the Lone Star State

Cartels are a reality of life in Texas. With our proximity to the Mexico border, the presence of cartels and drug trafficking were inevitable.

But which cartels have staked out their claim in Texas? Take a look below.

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark

Dangerous Texas Gangs And Their Rivals

The rise of gang culture in Texas has been a steady one

The more prevalent gangs are, the more likely the average citizen is to cross paths with affiliated members. As the population of Texas has increased in size and diversity, so have the gangs of the Lone Star state.

If you're not mixed up in organized crime shenanigans, then you're probably safe. But as the old adage goes, the more you know the better prepared you are.

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark